Animal medicines should be removed from the scope of the Protocol says UUP's Tom Elliott
and live on Freeview channel 276
The DUP assemblyman said: “Whilst of course the extension of the grace period is to be welcomed on one hand, on the other hand, the very fact such an extension is needed illustrates very perfectly why the Northern Ireland Protocol needs removed.
“It also explains why my party refuses to form an Executive at Stormont until this regulatory and constitutional barrier to the rest of the United Kingdom is satisfactorily dealt with.”
He continued: “To have a situation develop whereby over 50 per cent of essential veterinary medicines would not have been accessible to Northern Ireland would be a travesty. There is no surprise in the fact that this extension has been invoked.
“The EU should have no meddling influence in the handling of medicines within the UK and this episode simply shows that the Northern Ireland Protocol is a bureaucratic nightmare and since its inception has cost millions of pounds in added delays, paper work and increased the price of goods to all consumers in Northern Ireland.
“The Northern Ireland farming community will welcome the assurance that essential veterinary medicines will continue to be available. However, the requirement for arrangements that respect the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom remains an urgent and impending task,” he said.
The UUP’s Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs spokesperson, Tom Elliott, has welcomed the extension but said animal medicines “should be removed from the scope of the Protocol”.
“Although this is only a stop-gap and temporary solution, we should never have been in this position and I have called on numerous occasions - the last being just a month ago - that animal medicines should be removed from the scope of the Protocol,” Mr Elliott commented.
“The extended grace period for medicines was planned to come to an end this month at the end of 2022 and, so far, the implementation of the full protocol rules would mean that potentially half of all veterinary medicines would no longer be available.”
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said this is a “very significant issue”, not only for animal health and welfare, but also for public health, the food supply chain and the Northern Ireland farming community.
"There is potential for severe repercussions,” he continued.
“The farming community should continue to have access to the same medicines that are freely available in any other part of the UK and it is vital that our concerns are raised in any negotiations.
"The EU need to recognise the problems that have been created because of dual regulations. The risks are very real and need addressing as a matter of urgency and that is why I have written to HM Government to highlight this inequality and to ask that they do all in their power to resolve this.
“Medicines should never have been included in the Protocol. I am asking for a practical common-sense approach to this issue and remove animal medicines from the scope of the Protocol, which would help future proof the agri food industry and at the same time provide a solution that helps protect animal health and food security,” he ended.
Also commenting on the decision, Dr Mike Johnston MBE, Chief Executive of the Dairy Council, said: “This is a very welcome decision, because without it we were looking at a scenario where certain veterinary medicines and vaccines would not have been available in NI.
“The consequences of this would have been severe for farmers and their livestock.
“This is the right decision at this time and I would congratulate and thank both UK and EU for recognising the problem and extending the grace period. However, this is only a temporary fix that gives both UK and EU some space to agree the future operation of the Protocol.
“We are being told by politicians that there is a more positive approach to agreeing solutions for issues around the Protocol, and hopefully this decision is a step towards this wider agreement,” he added.